31st October, 2021
My first visit to Valletta was back in 2006. I fell in love with the harbour. Arrival with the sunrise is the most spectacular thing, when the sun at a low angle hits the limestone buildings and walls. Today’s arrival was unlike this as sadly there was no sun.
Due to the delays with our Gibraltar bunkering our arrival was later than we had hoped, and we now aimed to be at the Pilot station at noon, alongside by 13:00. When the pilot came to the Bridge we discussed the intended approach and agreed that I will keep the Con of the ship with the Pilot assisting.
Valletta’s Grand Harbour has two breakwaters, perfectly designed to stop the swell coming into the harbour. For us that means a zig-zag / slalom entrance. The approach starts on the SW course for the outer breakwater, then turn to starboard 30 degrees and just before the ship aligns with the inner breakwater a 90 degree turn to port. During the turn to port, although the wind wasn’t strong, we started to drift to starboard just as we were passing the buoy on our starboard side. I had to apply wheel to starboard again to get the stern away from the buoy and use the bow thruster to port to prevent the bow turning to starboard. We passed clear of the buoy, safe and sound. Once inside the harbour basin all I had to do was slow her down and come alongside. We came bow in, with starboard side alongside as it was faster than swinging.
After a late lunch, Staff Captain Matt and I went for a walk along the pier for an inspection of the ship’s side and a series of pleasant chats with our guests on Promenade deck 6.
15:00 brought another crew drill, and 17:00pm another plaque exchange. Our departure was set for 19:30 and we agreed that our designated driver would be Matt. He thrusted the ship off the berth, with more power on the stern as we needed to swing around. Well controlled, he aligned the ship for the approach for the inner breakwater, and made his slalom turns perfectly. I must admit that he did a better job than me. Well done Matt!!
Captain Franko Papić
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